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Labor Ministry to tackle issue of runaway foreign workers

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Labor (MOL) said yesterday that in order to alleviate the issue of the increasing number of foreign workers on the run, it plans to amend the Employment Service Act to raise fines for employers and agents who break the law.

The MOL further noted that an amendment to the act was submitted to the Executive Yuan for review.

Labor Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) is also scheduled to report to the Legislative Yuan today regarding the issue of foreign workers on the run.

According to a written report sent by the MOL to the Legislature, as of December 2013 there are 489,134 foreign laborers in Taiwan, 41,650 of whom are reported missing.

The MOL said the number of foreign workers has increased over the past five years. However, the government has limited manpower for inspections, so the number of cases of runaways has increased.

The ministry said the reasons foreign workers go missing include disputes over benefits, unacceptable working environments or an inability to get along with their employers.

The MOL said disputes between workers and the employers and the over-priced expense of agents are also possible reasons for foreign workers to run away from their jobs.

The Ministry said it will focus on educating employers regarding relevant regulations in the future, and it will inspect foreign laborers' working environments with the assistance of local governments.

March 17, 2014    kingsolomon@
I believe there will be less runaways if there are no abuses happening to these workers. If these workers feel at home with their employers why would they need to run away? They cannot read or write Chinese and their communication skills in Chinese are very limited, so running away is just their last resort. Prospective employers should be required to attend seminars on how to treat their workers and not to take away their rights, just like the workers who are required to attend seminars before they leave from their country. This way there will be less runaways and less headaches for everybody.
March 17, 2014    lightcrusaderjr@
If the Ministry of Labor of Taiwan is serious about reducing the problem with run-away workers, then it will focus more on ensuring that employers and brokers are fully educated on their obligations and provide clear incentive and disincentive for them to honestly fulfill their obligations to the workers. Right now, brokers still use various schemes to impose practically all the heavy economic burdens on migrant workers while freeing employers from paying their obligatory placement, registration and service fees under Taiwan laws. Employers continue not to give the proper day-off to caretakers, and most employers and brokers still keep the passports and other identity documents of foreign workers to restrict their freedom. Fishermen are still made to pay for food and accommodation even when they just sleep on their boats and eat mostly their own catch. Employers, on the other hand, are made to pay high Employment Stabilization fee to the government. Until the government of Taiwan, particularly the Ministry of Labor, learn to re-balance the burdens and effectively enforce just, fair, and transparent and policies, this problem of run-away workers will just grow bigger and more serious. It's time Taiwan face up to the truth!
March 18, 2014    curtisakbar@
Not just foreign labourers that get abused, most workers in Taiwan are abused. Unpaid overtime work, unpaid sick leave, unpaid holidays etc. All workers in Taiwan should be covered by some labour laws but currently there is a pocket of society that is left without any protection. Once EVERYONE is covered by labour laws, then these laws need to be enforced without the fear of losing one's job.
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